February 9, 2018

Halfway Point for Give Hope Wings


The Give Hope Wings flight around South America has reached the half way point of epic journey and team members Dave McElroy, Russ Airey and Harold Fast checked in earlier this week as the two aircraft turned north.

Buenos Dias from Commodora, Argentina.

We are now about to begin Day 33 of our Odyssey around the Americas for Hope Air. A few stats:

Hours flown so far:                         75

Nautical miles:                               10,300 nm 18,765 km

Percent of total itinerary:                53

Fuel burn  US gal.:                         600 US gal 2190 litres

Cost of fuel  $Cdn :                       $3900

Average fuel consumption:            8 US gal/hr 29.2 l/hr

Average fuel cost:                          $52/hr Cdn

Funds raised:                                  $483,000

We are now flying with the fourth  and fifth volunteer flight crew member. As with the airlines, we managed to (very deliberately) overbook the Patogonian segment. Harold Fast was good enough to get off the flight for this segment as we have two eager volunteers now flying with us: Ian Porter of Vancouver and O’Brian Blackall of Fort St John. Both are pilots.

We will reconnect with Harold in a couple of days in Buenos Aires, when Colin Rosengran of Saskatchewan will also join. He will fly with us to Rio, then Craig Smith of Indiana will come aboard. We still have room for one more lucky soul to join us for the Caribbean leg. Will you consider that? Details at http://givehopewings.ca/volunteer-flight-crewjoin. We will consider all offers as time is drawing short to fill this slot.

Terry Glover of The Kelowna Flying Club will join us in Florida for the flight back to Kelowna. Not sure yet when we will arrive home, as this will depend on weather and how many stops we make enroute. I have been invited back to do another half-hour session with Craig Ferguson in LA on his daily SiriusXM Radio Show.  We’ll see how the weather and the timing goes as to whether we want to make that rather significant diversion.

We have had a magnificent trip so far. At one stage due to delays caused by Peruvian administrative issues (two days), weather (one day) and the Pope (one day), we were four days behind schedule. We quickly made that up, however, and are now flying right on time. We have had zero mechanical issues. We did an oil change in Santiago, Chile, and will plan another in Florida.

Our crews have been wonderful. Four men travelling together and the constantly rotating crews have made for the time of our lives. There has been much laughter and much great flying. You may have seen the Facebook posts including great pictures and videos of us flying in four and five-ship formations with the Chilean RV aerobatic display pilots at an airshow in Villaricia. This is the Oshkosh of Patagonia, with many visiting aircraft from Argentina & Brazil. We were welcomed and presented with an award at the final dinner. Ended up staying there 3 days instead of one. Chileans are wonderfully open, friendly people.

In fact, all the people we’ve met enroute have been most welcoming and helpful.

As a result of the exposure from Chile, we have been invited to fly with the aerobatic formation RV demonstration team in Brazil. All five of these pilots are ex-military fighter pilots, so we are most hopeful we can work our timing to engage in this opportunity. Stay tuned.

We are so fortunate.

Please encourage all you know to track and “like” us on Facebook to help spread the word about Hope Air. Donations have slowed to a trickle since we left and stopped actively fundraising. We want to well exceed our $500,000 goal. Many thanks to all our friends at the Kelowna Flying Club/COPA Flight 36. Your huge support of this endeavour is greatly appreciated.